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I have just finished reading The Happy Mind by Kevin Horsley and Louis Fourie. This book is about living a happier life. This is the first book I ever read on happiness. Normally, the books I read and report on this blog are more related to personal finance. But as we are going to see, the two concepts are not unrelated!
This book is about how to define happiness. It is actually more difficult than it seems to define this concept. It is very specific to each people. But, by studying happy people, we can get a better view of what makes them happy. And on the contrary, by studying unhappy people we can learn even more about happiness.
From the definitions of happiness, the book goes on to give many practical tips about how to get your life in the tracks to happiness. This will not change your life overnight. But adopting some of these pieces of advice could help live your life better.
Stay tuned if you want to learn all about happiness.
The Search for Happiness
The book is cut into several parts. The first part is about happiness itself.
First of all, it is important to define happiness. And actually, it is already a complicated subject. There is no single definition of happiness. Each person should have its own definition of happiness. You can start with your own current definition and improve it with what you learn from this book.
The book goes into great lengths as to what are the different definitions of happiness. They are explaining the possible views of some people. Like for some people, affluence holds the key to happiness. It is one of the philosophy to be happy. The book explains several of these philosophies. However, it also shows the issues with most of these philosophies. For instance, the quest for affluence and happiness often leads to bad behavior such as overspending.
For most people, happiness has to come with an event. They have an if-then idea of happiness. For instance, if they were richer, they would be happier. But once they get the money, they realize they are not any happier. And they add another if-then condition to their quest to happiness.
The second part of the book is trying to define happiness. As we said earlier, it is actually very difficult to truly define happiness. However, we can analyze the habits of happy people to try to derive a loose definition of happiness.
For this, the book list nine common qualities of happy people. For instance, they enjoy simple things more. And they invest in their overall wellness. I thought this was very interesting to read about. For each of these nine qualities, the book goes into details as to what exactly these happy people do differently than unhappy people.
I think it is a great way to define happiness. By showing what happy people are doing rather than trying to define a pedantic definition of happiness, the book is doing a nice explanation.
The next chapter is the antithesis of the previous one: Habits of unhappy people.
This chapter goes into details about what makes some people unhappy. For instance, unhappy people do not generally take well to a challenge. They are often frozen under some conditions that they are used to.
Mostly, what is very important to remember is that unhappy people generally expect happiness to simply happen to them. They think it is an event that will eventually come. On the other hand, happy people are making it a goal to be happy every day. This is a very significant difference that is explained in details throughout the book.
Finally, the next chapter is about practical guidelines and tips about how to get happier.
Now, this chapter is not a definitive guide to happiness. Such a thing simply does not exist. However, there are some things that can be learned from happy people and can be replicated.
Of course, acquiring this happiness state of mind is not something that can be achieved in a single day or even a single year. Your mind needs to be trained in another way of seeing life. This is not trivial.
This chapter is really full of good pieces of advice. For instance, you should have a plan of where you want your life to be and you should live your days according to this plan. It is important to have a purpose in life.
Happy people are tidying their home and avoid having too many clutter. Another interesting advice is to get rid of bad influences. If some of your relationships are simply toxic for you, there is no reason to pollute your life. You are doing yourself, and probably the other as well, a service by stopping some of your relationships.
Happiness and Financial Independence
One thing that is really interesting about this book is that there are many things related to Personal Finance in it.
First, a happy person is one that takes care of its finances. Happy People avoids overspending and always save some of their income. They also do not try to live like the Joneses. Indeed, they live their own life and they are content with it. They need to be able to weather rainy days. And happy people are also trying to increase their income by becoming exceptional at what they are doing.
Saving is a habit, not a function of income
Moreover, happy people are also thinking about their retirement. They want to continue to be happy after they do not have any income. And for that, they save money during all their life in order to be able to continue their happy lifestyle. Financial Independence can help you be happier. This is one of the main reasons for trying to become Financially Independent.
What I liked
Overall, I really liked this book more than I would have thought. Generally, I not much for abstract concepts. But this book was much less abstract than I thought. Several chapters are full of practical tips on how to be happier. Even though I doubt reading this book will suffice to make everyone happy, if you have the right mindset and follow some of these principles, it could definitely help you.
One thing I really like is that the authors are very honest. They do not pretend to have all the answers. And something very important, they say themselves that there is no formula for happiness. Becoming happy takes time and dedication. You cannot simply become happy tomorrow by doing a single thing tomorrow.
I also really like that they included Personal Finance notions into the book. They even talked about Financial Independence in the book. But they did not say that money will make you happy (it will not!). On the other hand, not having to worry about money will definitely ease your mind and help you become happier!
What I did not like
One thing I did not really like in this book is that some of the examples are a bit repetitive.
For instance, many of the pieces of advice in the last chapter are very common with the chapter about the habits of happy people. This is logical of course. But I think the chapter about happy people could have been made a bit shorter in order to focus more on the happiness advice.
It is a bit the same when they compare unhappiness with happiness. Several of the examples are simply contrary to the others. Once again, this is logical. But this could have been shorter.
When I started reading The Happy Mind, I was not expecting a lot from the book. I am very down to earth and books about happiness are normally not much to my liking. But I enjoyed this book!
It is a very interesting book about happiness. It is a very honest book, not a fake formula for happiness that will help nobody. Yet, it is full of really practical pieces of advice. All these tips are derived from studying the habits of happy people.
The other side of the equation is also important. By studying what unhappy people are doing, we can see what we should avoid. However, this is pretty much the contrary examples of what happy people are doing. As such, it was a bit redundant in the book from time to time. But since the book is quite short, it did not hurt the experience.
Finally, Financial Independence and Happiness are more related than we could think. Not living paycheck to paycheck can go a great way in helping some people getting happier. That is not to say that money will buy you happiness. But not having to care about money is very good!
If you are interested in this book, you can find it on Amazon: The Happy Mind – A Simple Guide to Living a Happier Life Starting Today
Thanks a lot to TCK Publishing (also on Facebook) that gave me a copy of this book for review. It was a nice read. If you are interested, you can also find one of the authors, Kevin Horsley, on Twitter @Kevinhorsley.
To discover more excellent books, read about the best personal finance books.
Did you ever read this book? What did you think? Do you have another book to recommend?